Dear Young Putz

We just crossed paths at an office building not too far from me. My husband had some business to take care of, and I was waiting for him in the lobby. There was one chair there, occupied by your ridiculously young self. I leaned against the wall for 5 minutes, while you were sprawled all over the easy chair answering your email and BBMs. You looked up, saw me leaning against the wall. Did you offer me your seat? No. Did it even occur to you that it might be the chivalrous thing to do? No.

In fact, you finally got up to talk to the receptionist, and I immediately sat down in the seat you vacated. Within a few seconds you turned around and saw that I was sitting in “your” seat. I could see the frustration on your face that you had lost your seat. I busied myself with MY blackberry.

I know I am not an old woman by any means, but I have at least 15 years on you. I was brought up that if a lady is standing, then no men are sitting. My husband would have given up his seat for any woman – young or old, it is immaterial. But then he was brought up in a time where men were gentlemen and knew what chivalry was.

It’s a shame that it didn’t bother you to see me standing for minutes on end. It’s a shame that you were not brought up with the right values. Would I have taken the seat if you offered it? Maybe, maybe not. But it would have been the correct thing for you to do to offer.

I think I will stop before I start wagging my index finger at you and call you a young whippersnapper.


A very disgruntled HSM

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  1. Dovid says:

    I dont mean to attack you but i think you were out of line. If you look like a much younger women, which you always say you do, you cant expect someone to give up their seat because you are a lady. The world doesn’t work that way anymore. For all you he had a bad back. Probably not but who knows? Ladies are equal in todays day and age. Simply being a lady doesn’t get you a seat anymore. I would not start attacking the values kids are raised with. its an attack on the parents which is wrong.. Im sure you tried to instill certain values to your children and for whatever reason they don’t live up to it…Its a slippery slope

  2. FirstTimePoster says:

    I’m *very* much in agreement with Dovid.

  3. Dovid, I disagree. Not because ladies are somehow more worthy, or are delicate flowers who are incapable of standing, but because – as you signed off – it’s a slippery slope, the erosion of good manners.

    I have taught my son to hold doors and give up his seat for ladies and elderly people of both genders. He knows I believe there’s a special spot in Hell for anyone – male or female – who doesn’t offer their seat to pregnant women or old people. He needn’t do so for children (including girls). It’s an underappreciated courtesy, and women have done themselves no favors by being churlish when men do extend them this courtesy. But I try to teach my 14-year-old son that good manners are about his character, not theirs.

    I was so proud of him, when we were in Washington, D.C., this summer. I found him a seat on the train, and he reluctantly sat. (I really wanted him out of the aisle, as the train was quite crowded and it was rush hour; he, however, saw that there were women standing, and an old man or two, and it made him uncomfortable.) At the next stop, there was a woman who ended up right next to our row, and you’d have thought someone – trust me, it WASN’T me! – had electrified his seat. He hopped up and offered it to her. I was doubly pleased that she was grateful and thanked him loudly for it – nothing like a little positive reinforcement from a stranger!

    In my view, it’s not that being a lady gives you a greater right to a seat. It’s that children should learn good manners, generosity, and respect for their elders – and should understand the value of using good manners, whether anyone’s entitled to the courtesy or not.

    • Dovid says:

      I dont get where you dis-agree with me. Of course it is good manners to give your seat for older people or a pregnant lady. I most places you HAVE to give up your seat for an older person. HSM is thankfully(Depends on how you look at it:)) none of those. How many times do people on this very blog say she can pass for a upper 20 or 30 y/o?

      I respect and admire what your kid did but if he didnt does that make you less of a parent???I dont think so.

    • Philo says:


      Is seems, from Hadassah’s description, that the young man was around 20 years old. Hadassah is in her mid-30′s. I see no reason he should have offered his seat to her. Teaching a small child manners for the elderly or disabled is an entirely different matter.

  4. Ruth says:

    I don’t know whether I agree or disagree with you about men giving up seats for women without obvious physical disabilities. I have to comment, however, on the blog post title, which rocks my socks with its punchiness. If you track your traffic, I’ll bet you find you get a relatively high click-through rate on this one.

  5. Philo says:

    Have to strongly disagree with you on this one. A seat should be offered to a pregnant woman or an elderly or disabled person. Otherwise, no one I know things a young man should give up his seat for a woman. That’s not even late 20th century, that’s more 19th century or early 20th. It’s nice that KoD would give up his seat to a woman, but it’s not standard practice, nor is it at all required by ettiquette. As a matter of fact it could be seen as quite sexist, implying that a healthy woman is somehow “weaker” than a healthy man.

  6. batya from NJ says:

    I agree that seats are generally offered to those who are “old looking” or pregnant & had the kid offered you the seat, you might have actually been insulted ;)!!

  7. Dovid says:

    Besides calling him a putz because he didn’t do something you precieved as right isn’t that far behind the “wrong” he did. Just saying…

  8. ora says:

    I am a bit astonished at the vocabulary used by jewish-orthodox, well educated ladies…

    potz, bitch, what’s next?

    • funniest comment. *ever.*

      love this post, love this lesson. we, for sure, instill in *all* of our children to open doors, give up their seats, etc. simply because it’s nice, polite and kind. the world is just better that way. my, my i’m so sappy for a sunday afternoon! :)

  9. lady lock and load says:

    Nowadays, we are all so wrapped up in our cell phones, blackberries, and computer that we fail to notice what is going on in the “outside” world. Hadassah did mention that she was leaning against the wall, the young fellow did not notice that she was tired. When he got up and saw “his” seat was taken, he was frustrated cause he would not be able to go back to his e-mails and blackberry. shame…

  10. Dovid says:

    @lll The fact that she was leaning on the wall means nothing. When she got there, the one seat was taken. Tough. It is frankly sexist to expect someone to get up from his seat because you are a lady. Leaning on the wall? Please! When there is no seat people lean on the wall. That hardly makes you a handicap! This has nothing to do with someone being on his BB. The notion that he was upset because he could not get to his emails is patently absurd. One could attend to his emails perfectly well while standing. Im gonna go on a hunch here and say he was upset because his seat was taken. Just a hunch.

  11. lady lock and load says:

    Okay, does this mean that a man need not open a door for a woman? Is this the kind of future son in laws I will be having, men who don’t over a woman a seat or open the door? :(

    • tesyaa says:

      I thought men aren’t supposed to open doors for women in today’s day and age for TZNIUS reasons. Like if he follows her through the door, he’ll get an eyeful! LLL, I didn’t realize you were MODERN!

      • lady lock and load says:

        yeah, I dated one guy who explained to me he doesn’t open doors for women cause it isn’t modest. He lasted one date. nisht for mere….

    • Dovid says:

      If someone opens a car door while courting a woman he is doing just that-courting her. It wont last past marriage. How many men do you know that after being married more than a year still do that? I know a few but not alot. Go to any parking lot in Monsey, Brooklyn, five Towns, Chicago or even Detroit this type of thing doesn’t happen anymore. Now, back to the point, he was not courting HSM he had NO reason to give it up. HSM is thankfully a full able person.

      • lady lock and load says:

        my hubby still opens the door for this old lady :)

      • Philo says:

        After 7 years of marriage I still open the car door for my wife of we’re out on a “date”. Or if I’m feeling particularly romantic or gallant. But I don’t do it every time.

      • Wow, Dovid! One of the few times I didn’t open a car door for my wife, she reminded me! Darn right to do so, too. Sometimes I even remember to help her young self to her seat at the table. Maybe it isn’t obligatory; maybe it is originally non-Jewish – but it helps a fellow maintain a certain sensibility and sensitivity that one needs to be sensitive in mussar and avodat Hashem, as well. Much of that chivalrous stuff is good for honing our sense of respect and selflessness. Goes with buying my wife flowers every Erev Shabbat. She has a right to expect it.
        Now that you’ve reminded me, I have to remember to hold her chair for her tonight…
        Shabbat Shalom!

  12. lady lock and load says:

    Awww! thanks hadassah!

  13. HaSafran says:

    I think the anger/snark here is misdirected: HSM should be upset, not at the sloven college boy who knows no gentlemanliness, but at the office she was visiting, for supplying ONE chair in a waiting area.

  14. My husband, too, is a prince among men – he opens the door for me (we’ve been married 26 years, so I think that blows your theory, Dovid). He would also give up his seat for most women (though not very young ones – they’d have to at least look 30, I think – or be pregnant or harried with small children).

  15. Eli says:

    Oh man. What is WRONG with you Dovid? You mean you’d be okay to sit there, fussing with your stupid Dumbberry while your MOTHER leaned against a wall just because you got there first and we’re all humans anyway? That’s some seriously screwy thinking. But maybe not. In the South where I was raised we just look at someone like that, because sometimes it’s just too hot to deal with the Yankee, and say they weren’t raised right. I think men like to throw women’s lib (which, come on, REALLY?) around and say, well, if you want equal pay for equal work (what? WHAT?) then you can open your own doors. That’s like taking all your marbles and leaving because I shot your best aggie out of the ring. It’s apples and oranges.

    I taught my son to care for those less abled, to help people who need help, to always offer his seat to someone who looks like they need it because the fact is he has had it for a while and needs to share (get it?), and to open doors for adults. He runs, he fetches, he puts bandaids on my booboos and kisses them which is sweet. He understands somehow deep inside that he is a tzaddick and that is how a tzaddick responds to PEOPLE. And to top that off…guess what? He has a developmental disability…he’s autistic yet he still gets this basic premise.

    Yes, the schmuck SHOULD have given up his seat. And why? Because. Thats the right thing to do. It’s called being raised right. Having courtesy. Empathy. Being engaged in something larger than yourself.

    That’s my $0.88.


    • Philo says:

      Oh man. What is WRONG with you Dovid? You mean you’d be okay to sit there, fussing with your stupid Dumbberry while your MOTHER leaned against a wall just because you got there first and we’re all humans anyway?

      How old do you people think Hadassah is? she’s a relatively young woman, for pete’s sake! She’s younger than me, and I’m young.

    • Dovid says:

      I dont see where we disagree. HSM is an able bodied person. She is isnt a handicapped person, BH. Because a younger person WHO WE DONT KNOW HOLD IS didnt give up his seat makes him engaged in only himself? That makes how his parents raised him WRONG? Seriously! I havew a question to ask ALL mothers on this forum: Did you child ever get into trouble at school, camp, or misbehave in public? Didn’t think so. Is it fair for me to say that you did a poor job raising him/her or that he doesn’t have decency or is engaged in only him/self? Cmon, lay off how his parents raised him.
      Maybe to call into question how his parents raised him and to call him a Putz and scream about his character when you have no clue who he is, because he didn’t get up for YOU is being engaged in yourself!

  16. Vicki says:

    I, as a mid-20s woman, get embarrassed when men offer me a seat or open the door for me, so I would actually prefer that no special attention be paid to me. That’s not to say I won’t teach any future kids to be considerate especially to pregnant women/older people, but I HATE, HATE, HATE when either my dad or my husband open doors for me.

    • I have to agree with a lot of the other commenters. I wouldn’t give up my seat for an able-bodied young guy, & I wouldn’t expect him to give up his seat for me. I have a bad back – a terrible back, really – & some days it hurts so badly that I can barely walk. But I’d never expect anyone to recognize that or know that or give me their seat anyway, just because I’m a tired-looking woman. And frankly, how do you know HE didn’t have an invisible disability of some sort? Things aren’t always what they seem.

      • Dovid says:

        Just to drive home your point, i have quick story. A freind of mines wife had cancer a couple years back(She has since passed on). One day during Mincha during “crunch time” the Dr called his cell. he was in shul and answered the phone right away. As he was walking out to take the call he said “hello”. After Mincha someone who had no idea what was going on went over to him and said something along the lines of hashem is more important then your cell. My friend turned to him and said “If your wife was dying and the Dr called to tell you time sensitive news you would also talk during davening” Needless to say he turned white. Point is, we never really know whats going on. There are things that we can perceive as jerky but we have NO clue.

  17. Mel from Monsey says:

    Welcome to Monsey! Even though I have a few years on you, like 30, this is a common occurrence in this town. When I, the old guy, hold the door for someone in town(usually younger than me) I rarely receive a thank you. I stop and shout “You’re welcome”. They many times stop and apologetically say “Thank you”. Most of the time there is no reaction. We may be outwardly Frum(Black suit etc) but we have not been taught common courtesy or Derech Eretz.
    Anyway, “Welcome to Monsey”

    • Mark says:

      Mel, Derech Eretz is the only “chumra” not have reached the Frum[mie] community. :-(

      • batya from NJ says:

        Mark, I’m not sure as to why you are assuming that the guy was a black- hatted “frummie” type. There are definitely many MO people in Monsey (although they are the minority) & this kid/young man may very likely have been one of them. It is not fair to cast judgement on groups of people especially w/o knowing the facts as in this case.

        • Mark says:

          Batya, the MO folks have also lost most of their Derech Eretz*. In the New York City area, there isn’t all that much difference between MO and Yeshivish anymore … other than perhaps the price of tuition.

          Real MO, the Derech Eretz/engaging the world/minimal-chumra kind, is on the way out and will barely exist in a few generations.

          * In fact, it seems to me that most of the USA has lost its “Derech Eretz”. Maybe it’s because I am getting older and have a different perspective, but maybe not.

  18. sheldan says:

    It may have been a little strong to call him a “putz,” but this is a debatable topic.

    I am, as I like to say, “old school and proud of it.” I was taught to have manners, which included holding doors open for women and being considerate of others, which includes giving up a seat for someone who needs it. Yes, the primary beneficiaries are the elderly and pregnant, but traditionally (and I think this is important to many of us blog readers) it has also meant that men offer their seats to a woman.

    Granted, Hadassah is not elderly, and may not have been much older than the man in this story, but my impression is that he was engrossed in his technology and couldn’t care less that someone was tired (Hadassah was leaning against the wall) and might have needed the seat. Maybe it’s a sign of the times that people don’t voluntarily do what they know is the right thing (yes, it seems arbitrary, but courtesy is something people know when it’s not done).

    I suppose that it is debatable whether the man was REQUIRED to give up his seat, but what would it have hurt? Instead, he comes off as a jerk, which he may not really be. At least, I am not sympathetic to him.

    As for those women who object to someone who offers them the courtesy of holding the door open to them: I will probably do it anyway. That’s the way I am.

    • Sheldan, you’re not obligated – but I’d thank you for it, just the same. I don’t see it as “chivalry” and I’ve admitted to my son that it may seem sexist and silly – but as I said earlier, it speaks of your character and his. Day to day, it is one of those kind acknowledgements one person can make to another. I would thank you for it – not because I cannot hold a door for myself or because I’m old and infirm and need a seat, but because it is a kindness in a world that is otherwise hurried and rushed and unconcerned with others. If I hit the door first, I’d hold it for you, and we’d do a little dance, and laugh – sort of like a little struggle over who picks up the check. I wouldn’t arm wrestle you for it. ;)

      To me, that’s what good manners are about. They may seem a little outdated, they may even be slightly irrational. But it’s not an entirely rational world, and we could all use a little more courtesy and kindness.

  19. sara maimon says:

    I’m with David here. Chivalry is way out of date. It’s sexist and unfair.
    Chessed- helping someone who needs it more than you- is in. Chivalry- a symbolic show of exxaggerated courtesy- is out.

    As for age, you need to be at least a full generation older, and look it.

    Besides, living in Monsey, I’m surprised you even expect it. It Monsey it was never in style in the first place. I grew up there.

    • lady lock and load says:

      Sara Maimon, I have lived in Monsey for twenty years and people do hold the door open for me.
      This reminds me of the time I lived in Israel and I was wearing a jumper (called a tent dress those days) and I wore an Israeli head scarf (I was single but just wanted to be “cool”) and EVERYONE was standing up for me on the bus! They thought I was pregnant! :)

  20. sara maimon says:

    PS I always hold the door for the person behind me, male or female.
    I always offer to help anyone carrying a heavy load, male or female.
    And I NEVER give up my seat on the subway for anyone of my generation who isn’t pregnant or disabled.
    If I don’t have a seat, and I see someone elderly or pregnant or disabled, I will announce out loud for someone else to volunteer their seat.

  21. Duvii says:

    Dear HSM, I don’t agree with you.

    For years, the Females have been attempting to achieve equality, however that is defined. Therefore, Women no longer have the right to demand chivalry from the males. Those of us who happen to have been raised in a older generation will generally do the chivalrous thing but this is and should no longer be the norm.

    I know women that I work with that would be insulted if I help the door for them or gave up my seat just because they are female.

    If this situation was a man/man or women/women, the gentleman or lady with the seat would have been perfectly within their rights and have acted appropriately and you would have been the wrong one for grabbing the seat.

    In this instance, you probably could have said something like “Young man, I have a bad back, would you mind giving me your seat” or the like and I am positive that he would have done so. One can no longer expect men to do things for women just because they are women. The world changed, let’s all thank Gloria for that.

  22. blog follower says:

    Just wonder if this “Putz” has a blog and if he ranted about someone taking his chair when he got up for a moment?

  23. Z! says:

    I’m a bit surprised. HSM- You’re perfectly capable of speaking up for yourself. You could have asked the young whippersnapper for the seat if it irked you so and you felt you needed it. IF you felt you had the “right” to it, then you should have said something. Looking at you, I would assume he would see a perfectly capable young woman. Looking at you doesn’t mean your history is stamped across your face! This guy had no idea you are the mom of four- let alone teenagers! Looking at you you’d never know the back issues you’ve suffered or any of your medical history.
    If you’d wanted the seat, you should’ve been polite and asked for it. IF he had refused, then you could call him a putz and we’d all back you!

  24. fille says:

    I suppose the purpose of this whole rant here is to silence her bad conscience because she stole the seat when he was away, along the lines: attack is the best defense…

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